A walk-off field goal by Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby in the final seconds of Sunday's primetime matchup led to a blemished record for the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers showed fight, clawing their way back, and even taking the lead, from a 17-point deficit in the first half.
With a tough slate of divisional matchups ahead, here's a roundup of where national pundits view the 49ers in the Week 4 edition of power rankings.
Previous Rank: 7
They left too much damn time on the clock. Kyle Juszczyk's touchdown catch capped a 75-yard drive that put the 49ers ahead late in the fourth quarter, but the Niners failed to bleed the maximum amount of time off the clock before giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers. The final 37 seconds were just enough for the Packers to move into Niners territory and boot the game-ending field goal in a 30-28 loss for San Francisco. This had to be especially painful for Kyle Shanahan, who made Rodgers trade inquiries during the MVP's offseason of squabbling with Green Bay. He didn't get his man, and now he had to watch helplessly as Rodgers stole away a win that could have huge ramifications in the NFC.
Previous Rank: 2
The 49ers fell into third place in the NFC West with their first loss as they failed to keep pace with the Rams and Cardinals. They are still a surefire playoff team in some form as they are fully loaded back healthy in key spots for the offense and staying scrappy defensively despite secondary injuries.
Previous Rank: 5
That was a tough loss to the Packers, but they showed a lot in rallying back to take a late lead. They lost because they messed up the end of the game in terms of clock management.
Previous Rank: 7
Ugly start to the season so far from San Francisco. But that's not entirely unexpected, either. The 49ers endured a million injuries last season. Some of those players are gone; others, nursing their way back to full health. I thought Jimmy Garoppolo played far better in that loss to Green Bay that many of his critics did; he had a touchdown pass dropped in the first half, for instance, and kept the Niners ahead throughout, while battling never-ending pressure (Next Gen Stats had him being pressured on 34.1 percent of his dropbacks, or almost double his combined percentage from the first two weeks). Still, for the team I chose to win the Super Bowl to remain in the playoff race, SF must navigate pro football's most dangerous division, where all four teams could make the playoffs—and all four can hold varying degrees of realistic title aspirations. Which makes me wonder, same as it makes so many across football wonder: will Kyle Shanahan have to turn to Trey Lance in, at least, a more expansive role in the weeks ahead?
Previous Rank: 2
Losing is never good but the 49ers shouldn't feel that bad about Sunday night. They just left Aaron Rodgers too much time. But the comeback to take a late lead was impressive. Jimmy Garoppolo came through when he had to. The 49ers will be fine.
Previous Rank: 4
Jimmy Garoppolo has been OK through three games, which is clear from his standing right in the middle of the pack. The Niners have to be encouraged by the fact that he has only one interception but frustrated by some of the inconsistency and the team's penchant for slow starts over the past couple of games. Garoppolo still struggles to push the ball down the field; he has attempted just four passes traveling 20-plus yards in the air, completing one and throwing his lone pick on another. That inability combined with a lack of dynamic running ability could lead to the drumbeat for rookie Trey Lance growing louder if a few losses pile up.
Previous Rank: 10
One home loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers is hardly cause for panic in the Bay Area. But the way the 49ers fell in Week 3 likely caused some eyebrows to head skyward.
As the injuries continue to mount in the backfield, the ground game that is such a huge part of what the Niners do offensively was stuck in neutral—just 67 yards on 21 carries. That lack of a running game put additional pressure on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and while the 29-year-old nearly led the Niners to a come-from-behind win, he also struggled for much of the night, averaging less than 6.5 yards per attempt and posting a QBR of 47.9.
"Garoppolo may have staved off a potential quarterback change with a late drive Sunday to give the 49ers a lead against the Green Bay Packers," analyst Brent Sobleski wrote. "But cries for Trey Lance will only grow louder if the 49ers start losing games. Right now, the 49ers are 2-1. However, San Francisco faces the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in consecutive weeks before the team's bye. If the 49ers falter along the way, the Lance era will likely start sooner rather than later."